Three College of Staten Island students have earned Jeannette K. Watson Fellowships this year, a sought-after paid summer internship program offering mentoring and lifetime contacts to talented freshmen and sophomores at CUNY and independent city colleges who demonstrate exceptional academic promise and outstanding leadership skills.

The recipients of this year’s Jeannette K. Watson Fellowships at the College of Staten Island are April Boland, Melody Messina, and Khadijah Rentas.

April Boland is a sophomore at the College of Staten Island where she majors in English and history. She currently volunteers at Lighthouse International and has been an active youth group leader for several churches in her community. Upon graduating from high school, Ms. Boland took a year off before attending college to provide fulltime childcare for her newborn siblings. Ms. Boland will intern at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation this summer.

Melody Messina majors in Early Childhood Education at CSl with the intent of pursuing a career in Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy. Also participating in the CUNY Honors College Program, she is the recipient of a number of scholarships including the Peter Vallone Scholarship. Ms. Messina’s extracurricular activities include co-facilitating the CUNY Honors College Provisional Student Council and chartering the CSI Community Service Club. She has worked as a tutor for the school’s Writing Center and is currently a teaching assistant for On Your Mark, a program providing tutoring and assistance to special needs children. This summer, Ms. Messina will intern at the Association to Benefit Children.

Khadijah Rentas, a rising junior at CSI, is the Student Publication Board Representative of All Ways a Woman literary magazine, in addition to being one of its contributing editors. She has demonstrated her commitment to the campus community, serving as a member of Educated Volunteers In Life and the Community Service Club, and acting as an Admissions Ambassador to the college. Ms. Rentas majors in communications and hopes to pursue a career in journalism. She participates in the CUNY Honors College Program. Ms. Rentas will intern at the Gotham Gazette this summer.

Previous College of Staten Island recipients include 2000 Fellowship recipients Kenyatta Carter, Yekaterina Lushpenko and Tara Lynch, 2001 recipient Kristine Gansico, and 2002 recipient Elie Jarrouge.

Established by The Thomas J. Watson Foundation in 1999, the fellowship operates on the principle that “talent is broadly distributed but only selectively developed.” Watson Fellows have their pick of coveted job placements (“work they can learn from”) over three consecutive summers in non-profit agencies, business organizations and in government service that give them a chance to grow and develop interpersonal skills, and gain self-confidence in a variety of professional settings. In the third summer, Watson Fellows can apply for an international assignment through partnerships with Save the Children, the Institute of International Education, and The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

A series of weekly seminars further enhances the learning experience by encouraging debate and interaction, and also provides an opportunity for Watson Fellows to share stories about their work experiences. Visits to cultural institutions like Shakespeare in the Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art enable students to discover New York’s free summer offerings. Every Watson Fellow receives a generous stipend as well as a laptop computer to complete their assignments.

Eight colleges in all, including the College of Staten Island, compete annually for 15 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship openings; at least one college from each borough is included in the pool of eligible colleges. Each school may nominate up to five candidates, many of whom are selected from honors programs.

For more than 40 years The Thomas J. Watson Foundation has provided opportunities for graduating seniors at 50 selective liberal arts colleges to travel abroad for a year of work and study through The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. In 1999 The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship was launched to provide a set of unparalleled workplace and seminar experiences to ignite the professional and personal growth of students at eight urban colleges in New York: City College, College of Staten Island, Hunter, Lehman, Long Island University (Brooklyn), Marymount Manhattan, Pace University (Manhattan), and Queens College.

For more information about The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship or to receive an application packet, contact Caryl Watkins at (718) 982-2302.